34. Chapter Thirty-Four
"None of us should wander alone. You, least of all. So much depends on you. Frodo? I know why you seek solitude. You suffer, I see it day by day. You sure you do not suffer needlessly? There are other ways, Frodo. Other paths that we might take," Boromir said, collecting another log for firewood.
"I know what you would say. It would seem like wisdom but for the warning in my heart," Frodo replied, backing away from the approaching man.
"Warning? Against what? We're all afraid, Frodo. But to let that fear drive us, to destroy what hope we have, don't you see that is madness?" Boromir asked, continuing to walk toward the small Hobbit.
"There is no other way!" Frodo cried.
"I ask only for the strength to defend my people!" he yelled in anger, throwing the gathered wood to the ground. "If you would but lend me the Ring..."
"No!" Frodo yelled, stepping back.
"Why do you recoil? I am no thief."
"You are not yourself."
"What chance do you think you have? They will find you. They will take the Ring. And you will beg for death before the end!
Frodo turned to run from Boromir. He could hear the man behind him, knew the ring had taken over his mind.
"You fool!" Boromir cried, chasing after Frodo. "It is not yours save by unhappy chance! It could have been mine!" he cried, tackling Frodo and knocking him into the leaves. "It should be mine! Give it to me!"
Frodo struggled to keep Boromir away from the Ring, twisting and turning his small body in an effort to dislodge the big man.
"Give it to me!" Boromir demanded, closing his hand around Frodo's.
"Give it to me!"
"No!" Frodo cried, slipping the ring onto his finger. He disappeared and kicked at Boromir, knocking him from on top of him.
"I see your mind. You will take the Ring to Sauron! You will betray us! You go to your death, and to the death of us all! Curse you! Curse you and all the Halflings!" Boromir cried, searching the area for the invisible Frodo.
Boromir slipped and fell to the ground, leaves clinging to his clothing as he regained his footing. The madness of the Ring ebbed away him and he came to his senses.
"Frodo? Frodo? What have I done? Please, Frodo. Frodo, I'm sorry!"
Boromir jerked awake, the nightmare one he had not dreamt in years, and yet it felt just like yesterday that he had tried to take the Ring from Frodo and had put the entire Fellowship in danger. Even now, the words that had passed his lips tortured his heart. The Fellowship had forgiven him, even Frodo, and yet he couldn't forget the treachery the Ring had nearly caused him to commit.
Boromir tossed aside the sheets and slid from the bed, his hand snaking up over the scar that graced the outside of his left side. The arrow that had embedded there had just missed his innards, a painful death he was ever grateful not to have suffered. Slowly, his fingers trailed upwards, tracing over the faded pink scar along his breastbone. Another shot that had luckily missed vital organs, namely his heart and lungs. When his fingertips touched the thin line that ran along his left shoulder, he winced. That wound had been the worst, surprisingly. The bones in his shoulder had shattered, leaving his arm useless for months while he healed.
If he had not had the skilled hands of first Aragorn, then the master healer from the Houses of Healing in Minas Tirith, he would not have the use of his left arm now, ten years later. He thanked the Valar every day that Aragorn had refused to leave him on Amon Hen to suffer and bleed to death as he had begged him to do.
Boromir crossed to the window, his bare feet silent on the stone. He stared out into the night sky, the stars shining brightly. Now that he was wide awake, the morning still hours away, his mind returned to that fateful day at Amon Hen.
Boromir readjusted his sore and tired body against the tree, trying to breathe more easily. The wounds he had sustained during the battle after he had tried to take the Ring from Frodo were taxing what little strength he had left. Even the bandages Aragorn had put into place were chafing.
"Boromir, you need to rest," Aragorn chided, hearing the man groan in pain as he once again tried to sit more comfortably. "Those arrows came close to killing you. I know that the wounds are taxing what little strength you have left. Be still and rest."
"I would have you go after the Little Ones…do not leave them to torment, despair and death," Boromir pleaded.
"As soon as I know you are going to be alright, my friend."
"I will be fine, here alone. You have removed the arrows, assured me of the wounds having no poison in them and have taken care to patch me up. You must go after Merry and Pippin."
Aragorn sighed. The man was stubborn. But he was just as determined not to leave him alone to a possible death of his own. He could hear the pain and guilt in Boromir's words. If left alone, there was no telling what would happen to the man. Infection was not the only fear he had for Boromir. Guilt and shame could eat at a man just as much, if not more, than infection and disease.
"Have no fear. Legolas is scouting the path we shall take even now. He will return soon and we will all go after the Hobbits.
"I will only slow you down. You must leave me behind. You know this!" Boromir groused. "You are wasting time, Aragorn."
"Boromir, your chain mail shirt stopped two of the arrows from causing much damage to your chest and ribs, thank the Valar. But the third arrow nearly ripped your arm from your shoulder. The bolt was nearly as thick as three arrows together. You cannot even lift your arm, let alone a sword. If you were to be beset upon by more of the enemy, then surely you would die."
"Then I will die! It's nothing more than I deserve. I failed Frodo! I failed you all."
Aragorn sighed. There was no talking to the man. He had a head as thick as a rock. "You fell defending Merry and Pippin. And you let Frodo go."
"I threatened him. I could have killed him Aragorn."
"But you didn't. You came to your senses, allowed Frodo to escape and then you came to Merry and Pippin's aid," Aragorn said, kneeling beside the man.
"Frodo escaped because he placed that vile thing on his finger and disappeared. It spoke to me, taunted me, and promised things I wanted, needed."
"I have heard it speak. I know of its deadly whispers. You did well not to heed it, Boromir."
"Little good it has done the Little Ones. Aragorn…you must go after them."
"Aragorn! I have found the Orcs' trail. They go north," Legolas said, running from the wood onto Parth Galen.
"Merry and Pippin? What of the hobbits?" Aragorn asked, standing to meet the elf as he approached.
"Carried away as Boromir has said. I know not their condition, but from what I heard from the leader of the Orcs yelling at the onset of the attack, they were hunting the Hobbits. I do not think they will harm them," Legolas said, bending down to kneel at Boromir's side. "There is still hope."
Boromir closed his eyes, praying that Legolas was right. He would never forgive himself if anything happened to Merry and Pippin. It was bad enough that Frodo and Sam were crossing into Mordor without the Fellowship's protection, but for Merry and Pippin, they faced immediate mortal danger.
He struggled to get up, knowing in his heart that every moment counted now. He could hear Aragorn's admonition to stay put, yet he still struggled to gain his feet. They had to leave now if they were going to catch up with the Uruk-hai.
Legolas reached for the unsteady Boromir, wrapping a hand around the man's good arm. He glanced at Aragorn, who was not only frowning but muttering Elvish curses that would have made Elrohir and Elladan proud.
"You are the most pig-headed, stubborn, mulish man I have ever met!" Aragorn cried, reaching out to grab Boromir gently so as not to hurt his injured shoulder. "You only rival a Dwarf in his obstinate ways!"
Boromir chuckled as he heard Gimli protest the comparison. "I think you will find Master Gimli of a different mind, Aragorn."
"He's worse than a Dwarf! I at least would know when to sit down so I would not fall down!" Gimli growled, watching as Aragorn and Legolas struggled to keep the large man on his feet without doing more harm to his already damaged body.
"We need to go after Merry and Pippin. I am fine…" Boromir said, the black spots swimming before his eyes.
"The Orc band is not too far ahead," Legolas deemed. "I think if we take that short cut we found four years ago, we could catch them up, Aragorn."
"Short cut?" Gimli questioned.
"Aye, that's why I knew we could take time to allow Boromir to rest and gather his strength. Legolas and I have traveled these paths before. Many years ago. I just needed to know where the Orcs are headed."
"The large one you killed, the one that injured Boromir, had a white hand across its face," Gimli reminded them.
"Saruman," Aragorn spat, the name leaving a foul taste in his mouth.
"We cannot allow the Hobbits to be taken to Isengard. Aragorn, you must leave now. This short cut you know, does it take you to the bottom of the falls, down the North Stair?" Boromir asked.
"No…we head west, back over Amon Hen through the wood and out onto the Eastemnet of Rohan. Legolas, you said the Orc band headed north?"
"Yes. They are going at a break neck pace. It will take all we have to get close to them, even using the short cut we know."
Aragorn nodded. "We will take only what we need. We will have to travel light and fast. We leave in an hour. Boromir, sit and rest. You will need all the strength you can muster."
Boromir allowed Legolas and Aragorn to ease him back to the ground. He would gather his strength and follow as best he may. He would not leave the Hobbits to their death.
Boromir had just closed his eyes when he heard Aragorn draw his sword, and Gimli swing his axe through the air, the swoosh loud and whistling. He opened his eyes quickly to find a group of rangers and elves surrounding their small group. He didn't recognize any of the men and it seemed neither did Aragorn.
"Lower your weapons, we are friends," one of the hooded men said, holding his empty hands out for Aragorn to see. "I am Odell, this is Booth," he said, lowering his hood and indicating the man that stood with him.
"How do we know that what you say is true?" Aragorn asked.
"My lord…King Brand of Dale sent us, though he could not spare the extra men. We have been inundated with messengers from Mordor, looking for a hobbit named Bilbo and a ring he carried."
"Why did he send you? And how did you know where to find us?" Aragorn asked, sheathing his sword and gesturing to Gimli to lower his axe.
"We came looking for you. We heard in the north of the Council and that you had already departed. We came through Mirkwood. It seems our ally, Dáin II Ironfoot, is also an ally of the king of Mirkwood. We were granted safe passage and were told how to find you. We would join you on your quest, if you would have us."
Aragorn hung his head. Their quest had failed. Frodo was on his way to Mordor, with only Sam as his protection. Merry and Pippin were captives of the Uruk-hai, Boromir was wounded beyond what a normal man would have lived through, and Gandalf was gone, fallen into the depths of Mordor.
"No, we will travel more quickly with fewer men. I would see Boromir safely into the care of the healers. If you would escort him to Minas Tirith, I would be grateful.
Odell looked to where Boromir lay, his ashen features stark above the burgundy surcoat. "I will take your man to Gondor, see him to the healers."
"Thank you, Odell. He is gravely injured, so be careful and go slowly. There is medicine in the pack. His bandages need to be changed every day. More often if they become soiled or the wounds seep. Do you have a skilled healer in your group?"
"We do. Do not worry for the welfare of your friend. We will take good care of him."
Aragorn nodded, and then knelt down to Boromir as Odell walked away. He searched the man's face and found pain etched in his features.
"Boromir…these men from Lake Town are going to escort you to Minas Tirith. They will see you safely to the houses of healing."
Boromir opened his eyes, to find Aragorn at eye level with him. "You are going after the little ones?"
"Yes…we are leaving now. Be sure to let Odell and his men know if you need to rest. I don't want you dying on me, not after the trouble I went to saving you."
"Is that an order, Captain?" Boromir asked with a slight chuckle.
"No…consider it a special request from a brother."
"Aye…I can do that," Boromir said. "I would have followed you my brother, my Captain, my King…into the very bowels of Mordor."
Aragorn smiled slightly. "I know. I fully expect to see you in Minas Tirith when I come."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.